Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:53 AM
niyad (31,201 posts)
today in poverty: gop leadership and violence against Native women
Today in Poverty: GOP Leadership and Violence Against Native Women
Greg Kaufmann on December 12, 2012 - 11:56 AM ET
My question for Congress was and has always been: why did you not protect me, or my family? Why is my life, and the life of so many other Native American women, less important?”
—Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman, Tulalip Tribes, April 25, 2012.
On April 24, Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes in Washington State, visited Congress regarding an environmental protection matter. She stopped by Senator Patty Murray’s office and asked how the Senate reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was proceeding. Staff members informed her that despite the efforts of Senator Murray and others, provisions to protect Native American women would not be included in the bill.
. . . .
The statistics are indeed horrific: one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetimes; two in five are victims of domestic violence; three out of five will be physically assaulted. Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be assaulted—and more than twice as likely to be stalked—than other women in the United States. On some reservations, the murder rate of Native women is ten times the national average. According to the Indian Law Resource Center, 88 percent of these crimes are committed by non-Indians—the majority of the population residing on reservations is now non-Indian—and US attorneys are declining to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse matters referred to them.
As a result, the Department of Justice under the Obama administration proposed that VAWA reauthorization allow tribal courts to prosecute cases of domestic and dating violence, and violations of restraining orders, where a non-Indian has a clear relationship with a tribal member. It is a limited reform—it doesn’t address stranger-on-stranger violence, rape or sexual assault, for example. Still, it’s an important advance in addressing a situation which Parker describes as allowing non-Indians to “come on the reservation and commit heinous crimes and walk off and little to nothing occurs.”
. . . .
On April 25, Parker told of being “one of many girls” violated and attacked as a toddler on the reservation in the 1970s, and how the man responsible was never convicted. She spoke of an occasion in the 1980s, when she hid her younger cousins while listening to the screams of her aunt who was being raped by four or five men—the perpetrators were never prosecuted. She described her realization that “the life of a Native woman was short,” and consequently “fighting hard” to attend the University of Washington, where she studied criminal justice in the 1990s “so that I could be one to protect our women. However, I am only one.” She asked Congress to support the new provisions in VAWA to help protect Native women: “Send a strong message across the country that violence against Native women is unlawful and it is not acceptable in any of our lands.”
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